CHICAGO – For just the second time in the past 20 days, the Sharks held a full team practice on Monday in the Windy City as they get set to wrap up a four-game road trip on Tuesday night.
The timing was ideal in that San Jose plainly had some parts of its game to work on after a 6-2 loss to Nashville on Saturday. Additionally, the Sharks are going up against the defending Stanley Cup champions, who are leading the Central Division and coming off of a 5-1 win in Dallas on Saturday – their third straight.
“Nice to have a practice and tune some stuff up. It’s been a long time,” Pete DeBoer said. “I think the guys like getting out there too, they enjoyed it.”
Joe Pavelski said: “It’s definitely nice to skate and get a little practice time, and just go over a few things.”
The hour-long skate at the Blackhawks’ practice rink had a good pace to it, as the Sharks breezed up and down the ice and seemed to be in good spirits after a team gathering the day before to watch the Super Bowl.
One area of their game that fell off against the Predators, even though it wasn’t specifically a focus of Monday’s practice, was five-on-five play.
During the team’s 9-1-2 run going into Nashville, the Sharks outscored the opposition a whopping 33-14 with both teams at full strength. Against the Preds, they allowed four goals (and an empty-netter) while not getting any, as both of San Jose’s goals came on the power play.
“I think last game was one of those games where the mistakes we made ended up in the net,” DeBoer said. “You make mistakes every night, some nights you get away with it, some nights your goalie bails you out. … But, there’s definitely always areas we can tighten up.”
Falling behind to the Predators and never having a lead was also partially to blame for the lopsided score, Paul Martin said.
“We just made a couple mistakes managing the pucks in different areas of the ice,” Martin said. “Towards the end of the night we had a couple pinches trying to create offense, and typically we wouldn’t do that playing in a tight game, but you’re down a couple goals and trying to make something happen.”
Pavelski said: “We don’t want to be pressing and just giving teams offense, and maybe that was the case when we were behind a little bit. Overall, the effort was there. There were moments in the game we thought we could have taken it over, and we didn’t.”
Line combinations and defense pairs were the same for practice, so don’t expect DeBoer to make any changes for the Blackhawks, although he wouldn’t officially commit one way or the other.
“I like our group,” he said. “I like how we’re playing. I’m hesitant to change it up. I’m going to sleep on it.”